He was a stranger in a strange land.

That didn’t matter to Jeff Gough, though.

"He moved in his sophomore year in the middle of football season," Gough said. "I told him, ‘As soon as you get here, you can jump on our JV (junior varsity) team.’"

Gough is referring to Tyler Scherer, who made his way to Northeast Ohio from Sussex, a village in Wisconsin that is approximately 19 miles northwest of Milwaukee.

Let’s just say it didn’t take much coaxing for Gough to appreciate his future starting defensive end.

"He had a big smile that lit up a room," said Gough, who has been Hudson’s head football coach since 2016. "He said he played on the offensive line and defensive line. You love guys like that."

It ended up being a rather beautiful three-year affair. As it turned out, Scherer proved to be much more than just another spare part.

When it comes to the Explorers’ "Silver Boat," American novelist Luanne Rice may have the best way to describe the former 6-foot-3, 215-pound standout, who recently concluded his senior year.

"Missing pieces do more than complete the puzzle; they fill an empty space."

"The football team was a lot of fun," Scherer said. "I felt like it was an easy way to make friends."

Scherer hopes to make many more friends in the next four years. His next "Safe Harbor" will be the "Gateway to the West."

Scherer plans to continue his academic and football careers at Washington University in St. Louis, a private research university that was founded in 1853. The gifted scholar athlete, who plans to major in finance and economics, chose the urban 346 1/2-acre campus over Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

His former teammate, offensive lineman Evan Knipp, may not have approved of Scherer’s decision. Knipp is planning to play at Case later this summer.

"We’re like best friends," Scherer said. "It would have been fun to play together, but I felt St. Louis was a better fit. Academically, it’s one of the top schools in the country. With the coaching staff, I feel like every single one of them was the nicest person I’ve ever met."

Washington, which was led by longtime head coach Larry Kindbom, has been a member of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin since 2018.

During Kindbom’s 31-year tenure, the Bears won or shared 12 conference titles and reached the Division III playoffs three times. Washington, which last reached the postseason in 2013, finished 7-3 last fall.

When Scherer gets to St. Louis, Kindbom will no longer be in charge. Instead, former Bears’ quarterback Aaron Keen, who played for Kindbom, will take over the reins.

"They were a solid program last year," Scherer said. "The old head coach will still be there. I’m going to focus on helping the team win the conference and maybe a national championship."

Scherer got a lesson on the intricacies of winning during his time on Hudson Aurora Road.

The Explorers reached the playoffs for the second time in three years after finishing 7-4 in 2019. Hudson also shared the Suburban League National Conference title with Wadsworth and Brecksville-Broadview Heights.

Scherer didn’t light up the stat sheets like Hall of Fame defensive ends Reggie White and Michael Strahan did during their illustrious NFL careers. The senior captain usually performed some of the least glamorous but critically important tasks behind the scenes.

"He was like an anchor for us," Gough said. "We knew what we were going to get from him. He did a lot of the dirty work on the defensive side. He does exactly what you need him to do. He gives 100 percent every play in practice and in the games."

Scherer, like many of his former teammates, had a massive chip on his shoulder heading into his swan song with the Explorers. Due to several injuries and a number of bad breaks, Hudson stumbled to a 3-7 season in 2018. As a result, the Explorers had their first inactive November in eight years.

"There was a different feeling about it," Scherer said. "We heard that we were one of the worst classes to come through Hudson. We kind of brushed it off."

They sure did, even though they may have felt like the rug was pulled out from under them.

When two-a-days began last August, the Explorers decided to ditch their traditional I-formation for a no-huddle attack. Although this drastic change of strategy was designed to crank up the offense, Scherer had to keep a few extra water bottles handy as well.

"It definitely put some pressure on the defense," he said. "In the beginning, it really sucked because we were running up and down the field when we were not in the best condition. Once we started playing, everything seemed to slow down."

Thanks to Gough and defensive line coach Addison Carbone, Scherer didn’t have any trouble staying on his toes. That’s because his friends on the other side of the ball took their spots at the line of scrimmage just seconds after the previous play took place.

"Coach Carbone is one of my favorite coaches," Scherer said. "He really cared about us. He knew how to mix fun and work. It was just a great environment."

Scherer lacked this type of "great environment" during his time in Wisconsin. Not that the "Badger State" was all bad, though. He just needed a change of scenery.

Fortunately for the restless teenager, it proved to be the best three years of his life.

Much like J.A. Redmerski, saying goodbye to his hometown was "The Moment Of Letting Go" for the affable teenager.

As for the Explorers, the best-selling American novelist may have the perfect way to sum up their relationship with their always cheerful defensive end.

"You were the missing piece of my soul, the breath of my lungs and the blood in my veins."

"I’ll never forget this," Scherer said. "It seems like when I moved here, I found the friends I’ve been missing all along."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_Gannett.